TABC relaxes COVID-19 requirements to help Houston bars survive

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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – The Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission has just implemented emergency measures to make it easier for bars to obtain a food and beverage certificate. The move could allow a bar to become transform into a restaurant and reopen to the public. Restaurants with bars are allowed, provided that 51% or more of their sales come from food.The new rule eliminates a commercial kitchen requirement for the business. It also allows a business to sell packaged items and count food truck sales as a percentage. The Marquis II of West University Square obtained his certificate on Thursday. Owner Al Jara said he plans to reopen on Monday with safety as the number one priority.

“We’re no longer a bar, we’re now a restaurant,” Jara said. “Our sales must be 51% food products. When you are a small business you have to learn how to pivot, especially in 2020. It’s a pivot for us. It’s something that we think we can handle. ”

Meanwhile, at the Julep Cocktail Bar along Houston’s Washington Avenue, owner Alba Huerta is hesitant about the new rules.

She said they had already seen conflicting messages and changing demands throughout the pandemic. She said executives need to come up with clear standards if they want small businesses to go through this ordeal. Huerta said she believes it is safe to reopen the bar.

” Yes. I felt I had reopened the bar safely the first time we were allowed to reopen, ”Huerta said. “I think we have met those standards. ”

Mayor Sylvester Turner, however, believes this may not be the right time for the move.

“While I recognize that every business wishes to open and resume normal operations, these are not normal times,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “It took months to bring our positivity rate below 10% and it really has to be at 5% or less and stay there for 14 straight days before I relax the restrictions on bars. Otherwise, we will never be able to deal with this virus. successfully and everyone will pay the price. What is offered by the TABC and the bars will not work to contain the virus. ”

RELATED: Bars That Disobey Government Order To Be Closed, TABC Warns

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